Sleeper Cells & Terror Plots

In the writing of my second thriller, “Lucky for Some, 13” I have made use of “sleeper cells” which are activated by terrorists, which is a common enough gambit across the world.  During war-time, it is not uncommon for countries to activate largely dormant sleeper cells in their enemy countries and get them to do what they expect of them. The German Abwehr, for example, had several sleeper cells active in both Britain and the United States during the Second World War.

In more recent times, Islamic terror outfits too have developed and maintained sleeper cells in many countries including India. As this article in the Times of India indicates, there are strong grounds to suspect that members of the Indian Mujahideen and Pakistani terror outfits could be dormant in India, planning their nefarious operations.

This is true of the US too. After the Boston Marathon bombings came news that the FBI were hunting for a sleeper cell which may have been tied in to the Tsarnaev brothers.

In my story the plot revolves around a few key factors. Sleeper cells often operate on the principle of “need to know.” A member is told only what concerns him/her immediately. They do not know what the overall picture looks like being restricted to knowing only their part in an operation. Secondly, they have no idea who the other members of the cell are and may interact with them not knowing that they are actually speaking to their sleeper cell mates. Working in these silos is both an advantage and a disadvantage as I have shown in my book.

The only way to break sleeper cells seems to be to infiltrate them and/or hope for someone to make an error while they are under constant surveillance. Things get more complex when people you would least expect to be terrorists turn out to be members of sleeper cells. I have used this point too in ” Lucky For Some, 13″ where the key members of the terror group are by demographics and position in society those you would least suspect of being agents of terror.

I hope you will enjoy reading these aspects when you read the book which is now also available from


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